HAIO Challenges Designers to Reduce Hospital-Associated Infections (HAIs)

Patients sometimes contract healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) during their medical or surgical treatments. According to a patient resource website, patientcarelink.org, HAIs can occur in a variety of settings, from hospital and surgery centers to ambulatory clinics, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes.

The CDC provides an updated estimate of the overall problem in its prevalence surveyBased on a large sample of U.S. acute care hospitals, on any given day approximately 1 in 25 patients has at least one HAI. An estimated 722,000 HAI cases were found in 2011 alone, and an estimated 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations.

Staggering numbers like these prompted the formation of the Healthcare Associated Infections Organization (HAIO). The organization’s mission statement aims “to minimize and/or eradicate the spread of Healthcare Associated Infections through the use of architecture, design, and construction, including their impact on operations and maintenance.”

The HAIO recently invited eight multidisciplinary design teams to participate in a Patient Room Challenge, the goal of which was to generate detailed concept designs to inform patient-room prototypes at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The jury selects components from each proposal, and the resulting prototype will represent best practices derived from across the disciplines.

Teresa Wilson, AIA, LEED AP, a Principal of Steffian Bradley Architects (SBA), will present highlights from this Patient Room Challenge in her upcoming presentation for the 17th Lean Construction Institute (LCI) Congress. Principles that guided SBA’s design ideas for the Challenge included:

1.  HAND HYGIENE – Monitoring and hand-wash stations need to be placed where people will use them readily and accessibly.

2.  UV TECHNOLOGY – Mobile systems must offer ready back-ups for traditional disinfection methods.

3.  PATIENT SURFACES – Ease of surface cleaning must be prioritized for those surfaces that have the most contact with patients.

4.  PASS-THROUGH FOR SUPPLIES AND WASTE – The transfer of medical supplies and waste can be streamlined to minimize patient contact.

5.  OVERHEAD EQUIPMENT – Alcohol wipe stations can be placed on patient headwalls for quick cleaning of stethoscopes and other tools.

6.  LABELING – Visual markers can be used to clearly and easily indicate whether mobile equipment (e.g., EKG) is either “Clean” or “Dirty.”

7.  EASY CLEANING – Hygiene stations should be placed at the entry of patient rooms to allow for quick cleaning of hands and electronic devices.

8.  “DEVIL IN THE DETAILS” – Architectural detailing can be used strategically to make it harder for germs to get stuck by minimizing horizontal surfaces and keeping vertical surfaces flush with walls.

9.  GLASS, NOT CURTAINS – Anti-microbial, non-porous, and monolithic surfaces without seams and joints can be used, and traditional privacy curtains replaced with touch-free glass partitions.

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